Parents help their children scramble around and get ready for school – just like any typical families.
They arrive at the school on foot, by bike, car, van, bus – just like your typical students.
They walk under the bilingual sign that identifies their school, and through the gates – a little less typical?
They run up and greet their friends, using whichever language seems most appropriate for the occasion – a little less typical?
Take a closer look. Notice the many heads of dark hair and the few heads of lighter hair that seem to stand out.
Listen carefully. Hear the various languages and accents intermixing in conversation.
See the differences. See the difference between the Asian faces and the Western faces. See and listen to the differences among the Chinese, Cantonese, Taiwanese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Korean, Japanese, Australian, British, German, Scandinavian, Latin, African, and American. See the differences in their clothing, ages, interests, personalities. Talk to their parents and discover the differences in their values, their religious and cultural backgrounds. See the differences, and since experience generally teaches us that differences lead to conflict, expect it.
Now discover the similarities. Every child has a knowledge of at least two languages – many possess a fluency in several. All the students are living in the same country, but are not a complete part of that country. Each child comes from another country/culture, but is not a complete part of that country/culture either. They learn and grow in a place that seems to reside between worlds. For many of them, the religious and cultural practices of their parents’ lives hold no encompassing, practical significance for them. They quickly find the commonalities that exist between them and their peers. Many of them discover a common belief in and love for God and His work on the cross. They share stories of their many travel experiences and the many hours spent in airports. They talk about the food they like from all over the world, and where they’re going on the next holiday. They discuss their classes and afterschool events. They discover common passions and interests, common struggles and conflicts.
In a small place where the differences are so blatant, they find a place to belong. In this unique place, an International Christian School, the differences are beautiful distinguishers and serve as a way to accentuate the similarities. Conflict is present, but so also and in greater measure, is love. “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (I Cor. 13:13).